Nine bioengineering seniors, including four graduate students from the Global Medical Innovation (GMI) program traveled to Palo Alto, Calif., on April 14 for the fourth annual Bay Area Medical Innovations Showcase.
The event, held at the Garden Court Hotel, provides a unique opportunity for students to present their senior capstone design prototypes to venture capitalists, industry experts and Rice alumni.
“The Bay Area Medical Innovations Showcase was intended for us to highlight new and exciting projects in the bioengineering department to our local alumni and local department partners in the Bay Area,” said Jane Grande-Allen, Rice’s Isabel C. Cameron Professor and chair of the Department of Bioengineering.
The showcase keynote speaker was bioengineering alumnus David Allison (Rice Ph.D 2008) of 5AM Ventures. Gang Bao, professor of bioengineering and associate dean of engineering, while department lecturers Sabia Abidi and Will Clifton facilitated the event.
The crowd was full of familiar faces as some of the department’s distinguished alumni in the area came to engage with the students’ designs, including Daron Evans of Nephros and Charles Liu of the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California.
Attendees used ballots to rank each project, and prizes were awarded to those who received the highest number of points. The team Stitch Perfect
, represented by Serena Agrawal, took home the undergraduate prize for creating a micro-suturing system for in utero surgery. The device reduces overall procedure time and personnel required to perform fetal laparoscopic procedures.
The team UrinControl
, represented by Drew Hendricks, won in the graduate student category for their work developing a non-surgical way for children with neurogenic bladder dysfunction to maintain safe pressures in and control of their bladder.
A reception followed, providing students time to network with guests, share their team’s work and gain insight into the processes needed to scale and commercialize new products. All of the teams participated days earlier in the 2019 Engineering Design Showcase on April 11. Several teams won prizes, including Drill Team Six
, winning the Excellence in Engineering Award.
Akash Dhawan, Bay Area resident and member of the senior team Lapras
, presented a new laparoscope cleaning system that reduces procedure time and improves patient safety. His experience at the Bay Area Medication Innovation Showcase offered a unique perspective of life after graduation.
“Seeing these younger alumni and people in the field was a good gauge to see what we can do with the skill set that Rice has provided us,” said Dhawan. “I think all of us [students] found something different in the value of it, because we all are planning new things in the future.”
Rice’s capstone design course challenges students to solve real-world health care needs identified by partners from industry and global health. Students work in multi-disciplinary teams of 3-5 people at the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK) to invent, test, refine and implement usable technologies and devices. Students benefit from guidance and mentorships from faculty, clinicians and health care specialists throughout the early- and late-stage design processes.